Africa

Advisers to Congo Republic’s government have warned it that there is a “major risk” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will reject its bid for a long-sought bailout, according to a letter obtained by Reuters. Negotiations for an IMF programme have dragged on since 2017, with the IMF’s executive board demanding the central African oil producer ensure the sustainability of its debt, most of which is owed to China and oil traders, Reuters reported. At the end of its most recent mission to Congo this month, an IMF team said it was finally ready to support a three-year credit facility.

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The assets of Kenya’s ARM Cement have been sold to the National Cement Company for $50 million, its administrator said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. ARM Cement was put under administration last August by some of its creditors over a $190 million debt and its shares were suspended from the Nairobi bourse. It has debts with a range of creditors, including local commercial banks. The transaction, which applies to ARM Cement’s Kenyan assets only, is subject to regulatory approvals, the statement from the administrator said.

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Mining company Vedanta and its Zambian unit Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) said they were seeking urgent talks with the Zambian president following a high court order on Tuesday to appoint a provisional liquidator, Reuters reported. The news has rattled foreign investors already nervous governments in central African countries are seeking a much bigger share of resource revenues, which they say will discourage investment the region desperately needs.

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Congo Republic’s senate on Monday voted to restructure some of its debt with China, a move that the International Monetary Fund has said was necessary to unlock financial support, the finance ministry said. Negotiations over a bailout for the oil-dependant economy have dragged on since 2017, as Congolese authorities failed to convince the IMF they were doing enough to control the national debt or tackle corruption, Reuters reported.

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Mozambique’s restructuring discussions with Russian lender VTB over a loan to the state-owned Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) are in the final stretch, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its latest country report, Reuters reported. The fund also said the devastation from Cyclone Idai which killed more than 1,000 people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March, had severely hit agricultural production and disrupted transport, slashing growth projections by half for this year.

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Zimbabwe’s central bank has secured a $500 million loan from unspecified international banks to support interbank currency trading from Monday and ease a dollar crunch that has brought fuel and medicine shortages, Governor John Mangudya said, Reuters reported. The central bank introduced a new local currency in February, the RTGS dollar, and launched an interbank trading platform where businesses and individuals could buy and sell U.S. dollars. But dollars have been scarce on the official market, where a U.S. dollar fetches 3.4 RTGS dollars compared to 6.3 RTGS dollars on the black market.

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Yields on Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s dollar bonds traded near one-year lows while those on government debt jumped amid renewed speculation that the South African government may take over the cash-strapped electricity company’s debt, Bloomberg News reported. Moody’s Investors Service now includes the power producer’s government-guaranteed debt in its assessment of the nation’s fiscal situation because the utility can’t service its obligations without the state’s backing, it said in an emailed report Wednesday.

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South Africa’s Public Investment Corp., whose 30% stake in Lonmin Plc is enough to block the miner’s planned takeover by Sibanye Gold Ltd., is concerned that the value of the all-share deal has been eroded, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The state-owned PIC is troubled by the drop in Sibanye’s stock since the deal was announced in December 2017 as the company battled to cut debt, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private.

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PBC Ltd., Ghana’s biggest cocoa buyer, seeks to raise $100 million from international banks to help pay off cedi debt that matured late December, Bloomberg News reported. The transaction, handled by an Accra-based advisory firm, should be completed before the start of the main harvest on Oct. 1, said Deputy Chief Executive Officer Kojo Safo. The company has approached the state-run pension fund and the government, who together own a 75 percent stake in PBC, to provide guarantees for the loans that are likely to have maturities of five to six years, he said.

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Zambia, which the International Monetary Fund has warned is at high risk of debt distress, contracted an additional $2.6 billion of new external loans last year, according to the Finance Ministry, Bloomberg News reported. If the funds are disbursed, they’ll increase the southern African nation’s external debt to $12.7 billion, from $10.1 billion at the end of 2018. The new loans suggest the government is too complacent about rapidly increasing debt risks, Gregory Smith, fixed-income analyst at Renaissance Capital in London, said by email.

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